How many Christians are there in Saudi Arabia?
There are 34.1 million people living in Saudi Arabia. Open Doors estimates that there are 1.4 million Christians, making up 4.2 per cent of the population.
Why are Christians persecuted in Saudi Arabia?
Saudi Arabia is a strongly Islamic nation; according to Islamic tradition, it is the place of the birth and final resting place of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. The legal system is based on Islamic law, known as Sharia. It is forbidden to openly practise a faith other than Islam. Leaving Islam is punishable by death.
What’s life like for Christians in Saudi Arabia?
Maryam* came to know Jesus through the media, and soon after began writing poems and songs about her new faith. But when she came of marriageable age, her father started presenting Muslim suitors to her. She managed to hold off offers of marriage from the first two, hoping to marry a Christian. But when a third suitor was presented to her, she could not reject his offer without bringing shame on her family.
Maryam kept in contact with other Christians right up until her wedding day – after which she cut off all contact. It is unknown whether she has been able to persevere in her faith.
Saudi believers must keep their faith completely secret. Christian expatriates risk arrest or being deported if they share their faith with Muslims. Some Saudis have had dreams and visions of Jesus.
Many others have responded to Christian content on TV or the internet; like Maryam, Nawal* encountered Christ in this way, but unlike Maryam, she has been able to maintain contact with others. She first heard about the Christian faith online and got in touch with other Christians through an online follow-up network supported by Open Doors. They sent her discipleship materials and guided her towards an online Bible. Gradually, she felt the Lord speaking to her, and one day she gave her life to Christ. Nawal keeps her faith completely secret. Believers like her risk being beaten or even killed by family members because of their faith. And yet, Saudi believers are becoming bolder in sharing the gospel with others.
How can I help Christians in Saudi Arabia?
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors supports the body of Christ on the Arabian Peninsula through organising prayer, distributing Scripture resources and training believers and pastors.
*Name changed for security reasons
Lord Jesus, thank You that Your light and love reaches into the darkest places, and thank You that Your church is growing there! Protect all believers who must hide their faith, and help those who have met You in dreams and visions to find fellowship and discipleship with other Christians. Fill Saudi Arabia with Your presence and build Your kingdom there.